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The Johnstone Memorial Trophy
Awarded to an individual, a complete aircraft crew, or an organisation, for an outstanding performance of airmanship, for the operation of airborne systems or for the development of air navigation techniques and equipment.


The UK’s Attack Helicopter (AH) Force is based at Wattisham Flying Station, Suffolk, and operates a forward fleet drawn from a total of 67 Apache all fitted with the Longbow radar. The Force comprises 3 Regiment AAC and 4 Regiment AAC which have three squadrons each, supported by 7 Battalion REME and a host of contractors. The principal contractors, in terms of delivering Operational Capability, are Agusta-Westland, Boeing, Serco, Rolls Royce and Lockheed Martin. The AH Force could not operate without sustained and highly professional support from the MoD’s Project Office based in Yeovil and Abbey Wood, and the training support given from the Army Aviation Centre based at Middle Wallop. The term used to try and encapsulate the whole Force (both military and civilian) is ‘UK Team Apache’. The efforts, on behalf of HMG, of the entire ‘UK Team Apache’ is a huge and sustained team effort. The operational output of UK Team Apache is the responsibility of the relatively newly formed AH Force HQ, based at Wattisham Airfield in Suffolk.

This year, the Attack Helicopter Force (AHF) surpassed the significant milestone of 100,000 flying hours; this is the equivalent of spending 4,167 days or 139 months or almost 11 and a half years airborne, non stop, in one type of aircraft. About a third of this total has been completed on operations in Afghanistan where the AHF has been committed since 2006. To sustain the effect required in Afghanistan squadrons rotate on a four month cycle, usually deploying 150 personnel to support up to 12 aircraft. The AHF has been so successful in its missions of Deterrence, Fire Support and Situational Awareness that it regularly flies right up to the maximum allocation of 650 flying hours per month, the equivalent of flying one aircraft 22 hours in every 24. Fire support is provided almost on a daily basis from the ‘Hellfire’ missiles, 30mm cannon and, up until recently, the CRV7 rockets. The new Extended Range fuel tanks have increased mission time to over four hours for each aircraft throughout the year, which in itself enhances flexibility and operational capability. The UK AHF usually provides for the Air Mission Commander multi-ship missions because of its ability to see and control vast swathes of the battlefield. This is due entirely to the technologically advanced mission systems with which the Apache is fitted, and the high level of availability of the machine (some 80%); when this is coupled with the skill of the aircrew the UK’s AHF offers a potent mix to commanders on the ground. This is why the Apache has become the weapon of first choice in counter insurgency operations. The skill and bravery of the Apache crews has been recognised by the award of some two DFCs, three MCs, one MID and two QCVS, plus many other citations at 4 star and 2 star level. In terms of ensuring that the right targets are selected, prosecuted, and recorded the judgements made by Apache aircrew in the cockpit are routinely at the strategic level, which has led to the AHF being a world leader in developing ‘Judgemental Training’ and a ‘Just Culture’. It is worth recording that some Apache crews have deployed to Afghanistan five times, and one ground crew member (an armourer) has completed six tours (a total of two years on operations) since 2006. Whilst supporting operations in Afghanistan the AHF also developed Operational Capability to support Littoral Manoeuvre during 2010 and 2011; the Tactics, Techniques and Procedures devised are now being tested to the full by a deployment to the Mediterranean.

Formal recognition of the sustained effort by the entire ‘UK Team Apache’, and in particular the Attack Helicopter Force, is made by the worthy award of the Johnston Memorial Trophy.

The Johnston Memorial Trophy - GAPAN
The Grand Master’s Commendation
Awarded at the discretion of the Grand Master for an act of valour or outstanding services in the air.
2010/11 awarded twice to: CAPTAIN MATTHEW NOBLE-CLARKE AAC and also to 51 SQUADRON RAF
Captain (now Major) Matthew Noble-Clarke joined the Attack Helicopter Force (AHF) in 2006. Between then and mid 2010 he completed four tours in Afghanistan and was the first Apache pilot in the AHF to have amassed over 1,000 hours of operational flying in that theatre. His average tour interval in that period was just five months, and he has spent 19 months deployed in a period of three and a half years, a phenomenal achievement to which he committed voluntarily and without rancour or fanfare.
An extremely experienced and naturally gifted aviator he is a master of commanding AH on operations. These qualities have extended to the intense demands of Air Mission Command, invariably a task assumed by the senior AH commander, and at the most taxing end of the spectrum of aviation delivery in Afghanistan. Such a role could, and in his case regularly did, require command and coordination of up to 15 aircraft, of multiple types and from multiple nations, over several waves, and in contact with the enemy. He is in a class of his own in this role. His experience has also made him an ideal mentor to less experienced Air Mission Commanders of any rank, and he always offers help and advice with patience and humility. He has exploited his experience to develop and adapt AH tactics, techniques and procedures to the constantly changing threat.

Every one of his tours has been marked by peerless commitment and professionalism. He is unswervingly progressive and has been the main catalyst for a host of positive changes in AH procedures, many of which have also benefited the four other aircraft types in the Joint Helicopter Force (Afghanistan). He has had a measurable and enduring influence on the operational development of UK AH capability; indeed it would be difficult to imagine an aviator who has contributed more to the operational output of AH over the last four years. Captain Noble-Clarke has been under fire as a matter of routine; he has attained and maintained the very highest standards of military aviation delivery; he has become a class leader in AH support to Special Forces operations; and he has cheerfully endured countless exhausting days in 50 degree heat in support of our ground forces. He is deservedly awarded the Grand Master’s Commendation.

No. 51 Squadron operated the Nimrod R1 and was the sole provider of manned airborne electronic surveillance to the United Kingdom before its withdrawal from service earlier this year. Having operated in direct support of every major UK and coalition military operation since the Nimrod R1 came into service in 1974, the men and women of No. 51 Squadron have become synonymous with the provision of an extraordinary Signals Intelligence product to war-fighters and Theatre Commanders as well as other Government and coalition agencies. From the Cold War through campaigns such as Iraq, Sierra Leone and on to present day Afghanistan, the Nimrod R1 has been a consistent contributor to, virtually every operational landscape for 37 years.
The Nimrod R1 has been present over Afghanistan since the commencement of operations there in 2001 and the contribution of No.51 Squadron throughout has been remarkable. With the advent of ‘Operation Herrick’ in 2006, it was apparent that a capability such as the Nimrod R1 would be pivotal to a successful campaign. A significant equipment upgrade in 2008 meant that the Nimrod R1 product was further enhanced, to the degree whereby today it is acknowledged as the electronic surveillance platform of choice for Coalition Commanders in theatre.

The Nimrod R1 deployed in support of ‘Operation Herrick’ for the final time in early May 2010. This last deployment became the longest continuous deployment in the Squadron's history; flying 159 operational sorties and 1,177 flying hours. The enduring nature of this commitment provided considerable engineering, logistic, operational and personnel challenges, all of which were met with alacrity by the air and ground crews. Without doubt, this gold standard capability has been missed since its withdrawal from the Afghan theatre of operations at the end of March 2011.

The venerable Nimrod R1 led from the front since 1974. Such is the high esteem in which it was held, before its withdrawal from service, the Nimrod R1 was granted a 90‑day extension of service to meet a requirement for contingent operations that no other platform could provide. There could be no more apposite illustration of the value of this aircraft and its crews to UK Defence. The men and women of No.51 Squadron, past and present, can be justifiably proud of their outstanding contribution to operations. Theirs is a monumental and unequalled achievement enduring over almost four decades, and one for which No.51 Squadron is awarded the Grand Master's Commendation.

The Grand Master's Commendation - GAPAN
The Master's Commendation
Awarded at the discretion of the Master for commendable achievement in any sector of aviation.
2010/11 awarded twice to: 656 Squadron Group AAC and to Miss Mandy Pantall

As part of the Apache Helicopter Force and 4 Regiment Army Air Corps, 656 Squadron, has pioneered the Apache capability development since undergoing the first Conversion to Role in 2004. The squadron was the first to deploy the Apache to sea in 2005, and subsequently the first into Afghanistan in 2006. 656 Squadron then continued to share the operational commitment to ‘Op Herrick’ with all squadrons from 3 Regiment Army Air Corps and 4 Regiment Army Air Corps. Due to operations in Afghanistan, the maritime experience had been all but forgotten by 2009. In 2010, 656 Squadron, which was by then responsible for supporting the Attack Helicopter (AH) Conversion to Role training, was tasked to reinvigorate a bespoke maritime capability in support of the Responsive Force Task Group.

656 Squadron has built an enviable reputation; it was the first squadron from the AH Force to deploy to Afghanistan and more noteworthy was involved with the Jugroom Fort rescue and the Air Mission Command of the largest Commando Raid since WWII. Its aircrew have been recognised by the award of two DFCs, two MCs and one MiD. Since returning from Afghanistan in 2009, the Squadron has ably supported the Conversion to Role (CTR) training while concurrently tasked to develop a Contingent Operations capability. Although support to CTR is recognised as a squadron level commitment, 656 Squadron were also tasked with providing a contingent capability by December 2011. With little experience in Littoral Manoeuvre and no additional manpower or resources the Squadron and attached Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) hierarchy analysed the requirement and delivered a concept able to rapidly deploy a Land or Maritime capability. A number of exercises assisted in the understanding of the engineering intricacies, training burden and demanding flying practices. With excellent leadership and outstanding cooperation between aircrew, groundcrew and attached REME personnel, the Squadron developed a team capable of deploying in arguably the harshest of environments. Although given a target date of December 2011, 656 Squadron delivered a contingent capability in April 2011, and the Squadron deployed on ‘HMS Ocean’ as part of the Tailored Air Group (TAG) in the Mediterranean. It continues to develop a coherent joint planning process, has flown multi-aircraft missions by day and night and fired the first Hellfire missiles at sea.

656 Squadron has developed and tested new ways of employing the Apache and has ultimately created a new potency. In an aircraft not optimised for the maritime environment the Squadron has been imaginative, innovative and staunchly determined to succeed; all the more impressive given that no other nation operating the Apache has any experience in a maritime role. The squadron has taken Attack Aviation capability beyond the currently recognised envelope of contemporary operations and in so doing has delivered a significant capability for the future. All this has been achieved while continuing to provide support to Conversion to Role training, ensuring that tomorrow’s Apache pilots are ready for operations.
In formal recognition of the pioneering philosophy and success in everything that it has achieved, and the progress from conceptual design to the delivery of a capable contingency capability in little over 12 months, 656 Squadron Group AAC is awarded the Master’s Commendation.

Mandy Pantall is an outstanding lady who, through the way she has dealt with immense personal adversity, is an inspiration to all she meets and has had dramatic impact upon the lives of the many underprivileged people she has helped through the charity Fly2Help.

Mandy’s career in aviation started in 1996 as a wing-walker with the Crunchie Flying Circus. A vivacious and outgoing young lady, who enthralled the crowds at airshows all over the UK and Northern Europe, a lady who had everything to live for. However, this was cruelly taken away from her in 1998 following a horse riding accident which left her with multiple crushed vertebrae, resulting in severe central nervous system damage. Since then, Mandy has been unable to walk any distance unaided and she has been in severe chronic pain. The accident had a devastating effect upon her life – she could no longer ride, her marriage broke down, she had to quit the aviation world she loved and her self-esteem plummeted.
In 2004, while working as a signer for the Royal Institute for the Deaf, Mandy was encouraged to apply to the charity Flying Scholarships for the Disabled, and was subsequently awarded a flying scholarship in 2005. The opportunity for Mandy to get back in the air completely turned her life around: she weaned herself off the cocktail of painkillers she had to take, rekindled old friendships, renewed her own self-worth and attained her PPL.

Having got her life back on track, in typical fashion she decided that she wanted to help others do the same through the medium of aviation. Mandy continued to support Flying Scholarships for the Disabled, but in 2006 she was asked to join the fledgling charity, Fly2Help to run the office and to be the marketing and fundraising manager. Fly2Help is now a well-established and highly successful charity, whose aim is to support families and individuals facing a wide range of trauma or tragedy. In the early days she was the only employee, frequently putting in 70 hour weeks despite her part-time status. Now, thanks in large part to her selfless determination to help others less fortunate than herself, the charity has a high profile, some wonderful supporters, employs other full time staff and has helped over 630 disabled, traumatised and terminally ill people to experience the wonders of flight.

Sadly, Mandy is no longer able to exercise the privileges of her licence as she is unable to control her levels of pain without strong prescription drugs. The degree of pain she endures through the course of her work and her life is evident only to a few select people. She soldiers on without complaint, never letting those she helps realise the severity of her personal struggle, to ensure the charity continues its fantastic work, bringing smiles to people in the most adverse of conditions.

In recognition of her courage in the face of chronic pain, her constant self-sacrifice, her enthusiasm for helping others and the success in developing Fly2Help, Mandy Pantall is awarded the Master’s Commendation

The Master's Commendation - GAPAN
The Barnes Wallis Medal
Awarded in recognition of an exceptional and innovative contribution to aviation.

2010/11 awarded to: MAJOR DAVID AMLÔT MBE AAC
Major David Amlôt MBE joined the AAC in 1992 initially qualifying as a Gazelle and Lynx pilot. He served as the UK Exchange Officer with the US Army flying Apache helicopters becoming the first British Pilot to fly the AH64D Longbow Apache. For his work on the US exchange he was awarded the MBE in 2000. Since then he has been pivotal in fielding and developing the UK’s Attack Helicopter capability. His recent career has taken him through the Apache Fielding Squadron, to the Air Manoeuvre Training and Advisory Team, where he was instrumental in designing the Conversion to Role course. As OC 656 Sqn AAC, he deployed to Afghanistan for three tours between 2006 and 2009 including overseeing the ‘Jugroom Fort’ rescue mission.

Although an Apache expert, it is in his role, passion and development of ‘Judgemental Training’ that Major Amlôt is recognised. In 2009, Major Amlôt, acting as Second in Command of 4 Regiment AAC, identified a significant shortfall in the Apache pre-deployment ‘Judgemental Training’. The Joint Helicopter Command lacked an aircrew specific training tool to prepare pilots for the application of force in the Joint, Coalition and Multinational environment in Afghanistan. Major Amlôt took it upon himself to become the Attack Helicopter Force (AHF) subject matter expert in the legal understanding and application of Rules of Engagement, Targeting Directives and Law of Armed Conflict.

Having analysed the training deficiency he quickly established a requirement for realistic ‘role-play’. He generated a small cadre of volunteers to act as a civilian population and identified a number of insurgents to operate within this ‘enemy’ group. With a lack of financial support he purchased equipment and clothing at his own expense, even using his daughter’s toy dolls to assist in replicating local national pattern of life. With the skill and artistic talent of a Broadway producer he composed a number of scenarios that forced the Apache crews to question their rules of engagement and balance their offensive spirit against courageous restraint. Although it is understood that the Apache is an offensive tool, there is little doubt that Major Amlôt’s ‘Judgemental Training’ has helped numerous crews in the understanding of the risk to collateral damage and, as such, there is no doubt that Major Amlôt’s efforts have directly contributed to saving lives and to the reduction of collateral damage. As the de-facto expert for the AHF, he was tasked to expand ‘Judgemental Training’; his instruction now forms part of the mandated pre deployment training for all Joint Helicopter Command crews. Major Amlôt’s ‘Judgemental Training’ has become so widely recognised as the benchmark for aircrew that the fixed-wing community are using his templates to generate a training package for Tornado and Typhoon.

Major Amlôt has without doubt left a legacy in the way he has influenced the fielding and development of the UK’s Apache capability and wider aviation success on operations today. The outstanding innovation he has delivered above and beyond his traditional roles over the last 20 years but in particular his development of aviation ‘Judgemental Training’ is most deserving of recognition and he is accordingly awarded the Sir Barnes Wallis Medal.

The Sir Barnes Wallis Medal - GAPAN

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